Ongwediva — Namibia is not yet malaria-free, but the number of malaria cases recorded across the country dropped dramatically by a huge 97percent between 2001 and 2011.
The country is now classified under the elimination category, according to a recent announcement by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The current boundary of malaria transmission in Southern Africa stretches across the four "front-line" elimination countries of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, with transmission occurring predominantly in their northern regions.
For these countries to succeed in eliminating malaria from their northern borders, they will rely on their northern neighbors, the "second line" countries of Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, to significantly reduce malaria incidence on their respective southern borders through scaled-up malaria control efforts.
The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, says Namibia is on track to achieve malaria elimination by 2015.
"I can declare today that Namibia has made significant progress in the fight against malaria. Don't go and rest now, but go out and chase all the mosquitoes out, wherever you find them," he said.
Kamwi who is also the chairperson of the Malaria Elimination Eight (E8) countries made the announcement when he inaugurated a new Primary Health Care Clinic at Ongwediva built at a cost of N$5 million.
Eluwa Clinic is one of the two clinics inaugurated recently in the Oshana Region. Kamwi confirmed that the number of malaria cases in the country dropped by 97 percent between 2001 and 2010, adding Namibia to 40 other countries where cases of malaria have been reduced by more than half over the past decade.
The clinic, which will also provide free services to children with disabilities, especially from the neighbouring Eluwa Special School for the Deaf and Visually Impaired, was build with funds from the Ministry of Health & Social Services. The facility also offers services such as HIV counselling and testing.
He said the Government is committed to providing better medical services to patients at their doorstep and the building of the clinic is a step in that direction.
Kamwi further directed the Oshana Health Directorate to extend all necessary support to the Clinic by sending a medical doctor regularly to achieve the objectives of the new facility.
The Minister said the Health Information System (HIS) recorded 521 067 Out-Patient Department (OPD) malaria cases in the country in 2001. But in 2010, there were only 22 359 cases listed a huge decrease in excess of 90 percent.
According to the HIS, Oshana region recorded 48 150 OPD malaria cases, in 2001 compared to the 68 cases reported in 2010, followed by the Kunene Region, which dropped from 10 829 to 250 during the same period.
The number of In-Patient Department (IPD) malaria cases has also decreased from 41 636 in 2001 to 1 505 in 2010. Once again the Oshana Region showed the lowest IPD malaria cases followed by the Oshikoto Region with 32 cases during the same period.
The Minister said the malaria death rate has decreased from 1747 in 2001 to a mere 45 in 2010, which is a reduction of 98 percent in mortality. Kamwi said the decline in the number of malaria cases was due to a campaign that included the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and massive treatment efforts of people who contracted malaria.
"In terms of treatment we are the best in the African Union (AU) region," revealed Kamwi.
The Minister also added that the country has made significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. However, the infection rate still remains a concern. The Minister also inaugurated the newly-renovated Ekamba Primary Health Care Clinic in the Oshana Region, which is currently serving a catchment population of 3 702, which comprises 1 834 women of child bearing age, 310 under-fives and 165 infants below 1 year.